Russian investigators say that a fault with the wing flaps of the military plane that recently went down over the Black Sea was the reason it crashed and killed all of its 92 passengers.
The Tu-154 jet was heading to Syria when it went down off Russia’s coastal resort of Sochi on Sunday. Its passengers included 68 musicians, eight crew members and several journalists.
According to Russian media, all three of the plane’s black boxes flight recorders were recovered on Tuesday. Unconfirmed reports also said that Russia has grounded all Tupolev-154 planes until further notice following the crash.
Russia’s Life.ru news website has claimed to have obtained a readout of the last words said in the plane’s cockpit which points to a problem with wing flaps. The pilot also reportedly said “Commander, we are going down.”
The Interfax news agency also reported that an investigative source had said the initial data from the black boxes show that wing flaps had failed and were not working in tandem before the plane crashed. Due to the failure, the plane was not able to gather enough speed and fell into the sea and broke up on impact.
The first fragments of the plane were found at the depth of 27 meters one mile from shore on Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry said parts of the plane’s fuselage had been recovered and brought to shore.
An army of 45 boats, 15 submersibles, 192 divers, 12 planes, five helicopters and some 3,500 people are involved in the round-the-clock search operation.
So far, about a dozen bodies have been recovered from the murky waters and taken to Russia. Authorities believe most of the victims are still trapped in the fuselage deep under the water, waiting to be retrieved.